On Saturday, August 2, California residents will join people around the world in demonstrations of solidarity with the suffering Christians in Iraq.
As has been widely reported, Iraqi Christians have been given an ultimatum by the ISIS terrorists: convert to Islam, leave Iraq, or die. (They had originally been offered the alternative of paying the jizya, a tax levied on non-Muslims, but that was later withdrawn.). Many are fleeing the place that has been there home for nearly 2000 years.
According to a July 30 article in AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency, “Since taking over Mosul on June 10, ISIS has destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul.” That includes the churches and institutions of the Syriac Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Church of Babylon, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Latin Church, and the lone Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Mosul. The ISIS terrorists have even seized the Christian cemetery in the Ekab Valley which contains a small chapel.
The U.S. bishops have urged our government to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. On July 25 Bishop Richard Pates, the U.S. bishops’ chairman of International Justice and Peace, wrote to National Security Advisor Susan Rice:
“The Islamic State has taken control of large swaths of territory in northern Iraq, leaving a trail of destruction, burning and looting ancient churches and mosques, homes and businesses…Thousands have fled with little more than the clothes on their backs, often being robbed of their few personal possessions as they ran.”
On Wednesday, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced a resolution: “condemning the violence and persecution of Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq.
The resolution urges the president to reaffirm America’s commitment to religious liberty by helping to create safe zones for refugees fleeing persecution, ensuring timely processing of visa applications from religious minorities, and working with the Iraqi government to ensure religious minorities are protected.
Demonstration of solidarity have already been held in places as distinct as Paris, London, Brussels, Australia, Washington DC, and Turlock CA.
In California two of the locations for the August 2 Worldwide Day of Protest are Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Los Angeles demonstration will be at 11:00 a.m., at 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024. More information may be found here.
The San Francisco Demonstration will be at 10:00 a.m. at Justin Herman Plaza, at the Embarcadero, and Market Street.
More information may be found here.